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Vanusa Coutinho grew up in the favela of Monte Azul, where she met Ute Cramer and some of her co-workers as a child. Years later, she became the International Relations Coordinator at Monte Azul Community Association. In March 2018 she flew all the way to Japan to talk to all of us about her transformative experience as a child, as a young person and as a social worker. In her report, she tells us about her experience during “Knowing Self Through Others: Empathy, a Path Towards a Just and Fraternal Society” and about an upcoming Mini-Forum in Brazil that has been organised as a continuation of our big event in Japan.
“When I was invited to participate in this event on the other side of the globe, in a country that I imagined would never be possible for me to be one day, the first thing I thought was what it would be like to meet the Japanese people at close quarters. What would be the reality of that people, their joys and needs. I knew that the customs, culture, and beliefs were very different from those I know, but what intrigued me most was what kind of people I would meet, in the sense of the soul and considering what I knew of Japan through the media.
But despite my worries, I found people like me there. People like the ones I’m used to deal with every day. People with doubts and fears, people with difficulties… Joyful people who wanted to meet other people and share their experiences…
Young people with a great desire to change the world … People who have suffered from some disaster, and some who have heard of such a social work and came to know what it was about… People who came only because they knew that there would be other people from all over the world … And many other possibilities of encounters were there too.
Once again I realized that social and human issues are the same around the world, perhaps with another name and treated in other ways, not always better, but with the intention of improvement. Being able to leave my country and be like an example for people who are fighting for better conditions in education, health, culture in various social issues, or just struggling to be accepted in the country where they were born, makes me very happy. Knowing that my life story can inspire others who are looking for hope and strength to believe that transforming is still possible, gives me the assurance that I’m on the right track.
Here in Monte Azul there are many people like me, those who arrived as a child, and who even with difficulties chose to fight and win. Today they are teachers, educators, administrators, coordinators, managers, and they are carrying the organization’s work today. And they also want to give others the opportunities they had as children.
Thank you from the heart to those who through financial support made possible our participation in this event.
The results have already begun to appear. One of them is the Mini-Forum that will be held here in Monte Azul on the 24th, 25th and 26th of August. With the presence of Professor Daisuke Onuki and his students from Japan, our foreign volunteers, young people attended by Monte Azul and surroundings, some social organizations, friends and interested. We want with this initiative give young people the space to reflect, question and share their dreams for the future of humanity. After all, the changes we want to see in the future depend on our actions today.”